Here we are! The end of the 2010s, and with it a look back at the very best cinema has had to offer over the past decade. Those films that have impacted us, defined us, enthralled us, terrified us and enechanted us. Daily Info's resident movie guru picks out his top ten of the past decade.
It's hard to narrow down ten years of film to one list, and there are three films that came so close to be included in my list. They were the deeply moving Call Me By Your Name, mind-bending blockbuster Inception, and 2019's hilarious Booksmart.
10. Get Out
In its own way, Jordan Peele's directorial debut reinvented the horror genre. This impressively focused, fiercely funny film instantly marked out Peele as a terrific talent. Mixing in biting political observation with an audience-friendly thrill ride, there's a reason Get Out won horror its first Oscar in decades. Truly one of the greats of the genre.
Few films on this list pack a punch quite as effectively as Shoplifters. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme d'Or winner is a subtle watch whose impact slowly creeps up on you. Following a group of small-time crooks as they take a small child in, it delicately explores the definition of the family unit today, as well as the social deprivation many face. All this comes together for a final thirty minutes that will likely ruin any viewer.
Perhaps the last of the great cinematic sci-fis, for much of its run time Arrival is a perplexing, fascinating watch. A first encounter narrative that relies less on action than it does on the foundations of our language, it deals with deeply philosophical ideas whilst remaining a compelling, approachable experience. Visually stunning, its greatest success is Amy Adams' powerful performance, one that surely should have netted the performer her first Oscar.
7. Inside Out
A shining star in an otherwise fine decade for Pixar (a reliance on sequels dampened their reputation somewhat), Inside Out is a slice of animation genius. From the director of Monsters, Inc. and Up, it saw the animation powerhouse turn its gaze to what's inside all of us; the emotions that impact our day-to-day lives. Wittily crafted, the film nevertheless proves one of the company's more impactful watches ("Who's your friend who likes to play?") and shows that, on a good day, they are still one of the industry's best.
6. Lady Bird
It is strange to find so much of yourself in Greta Gerwig's deeply personal Lady Bird. Set in early 00s Sacramenta, California, thanks to observant direction and a terrific cast headed by an impressive Saoirse Ronan, there is a universal quality to Lady Bird that lingers long after the credits roll.
If there is a film that exemplifies Netflix's rise to a cultural dominance, it is Roma, Alfonso Cuarón's powerful award winner. Sweeping, overwhelming and deeply intimate, it exemplifies a craftsman at the height of his talents, making the kind of film that struggles to receive funding through the normal routes. And this shows Netflix at its best, offering a platform to creative geniuses free from the constraints of the traditional box office. Roma is worth watching for the beach scene alone.
Often overlooked, Pride is British cinema at its finest. Told with wit and charm, Pride sees two unlikely groups - gay activists and miners - unite around a common cause. Thanks to a cast brimming with some of Britain's cinematic national treasures, often playing against type (the likes of Andrew Scott, Paddy Considine and Bill Nighy all put in refreshingly subtle, quiet turns), and an authenticity that does justice to its story, Pride is a film I knew I could watch for a second time as soon as it reached its transcendent climax.
3. The Handmaiden
One of South Korea's finest and most exciting directors, Park Chan-wook stunned with this dizzyingly crafted, intricate thriller. Set during the Japanese occupation of Korea, initially we think we are watching a fraudster worm her way into an heiress' life. But things are not as they seem, with Chan-wook on wonderful form. A key aspect of The Handmaiden's brilliance is the pair of performances from Kim Min-hee and Kim Tae-ri, who are individually magnificent but together practically burn the screen down with their chemistry.
2. The Social Network
If there is a company that has come to define our lives, it is Facebook, which makes the drama of its birth all the more potent. With David Fincher in the director's chair and Aaron Sorkin on scripting duty, The Social Network comes from some supreme talent (plus music from Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross and cinematography from Jeff Cronenweth). It also feels more and more relevant with each passing year, from its insights into university life, to the people behind the social media empire, to toxic masculinity (the opening scene is a masterclass in writing). Even as its basis seems to contribute more and more to a fracturing society, you can't help but hope for a sequel. There's certainly a lot of material to use.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
Fury Road feels like a true anomaly. A legacy sequel to a long-passed franchise with none of the main cast returning. A fraught production with months of reshoots. A stand-alone action blockbuster in a sea of cinematic universes. There are many reasons why Fury Road should not work. And yet it does, an intense, propulsive experience that puts many of its peers to shame. Director George Miller pulls off an incredible feat, balancing electrifying action with fascinating world-building, and a message that finds hope in the madness. "What a lovely day".